The first talk we attended at the conference was by Alain Rossi, the president of the cercle de l'Auvergne et du Velay. "Using Tax Rolls as a Complement to the BMS" was an excellent and blissfully practical explanation of eighteenth century rôles de taille (literally, tithing rolls) as an aid to genealogical research. To illustrate their use, Rossi presented a research problem of some bewildering complexity involving intermarriages in the 1740s, then showed how he had untangled it with research into the tax rolls.
He gave the derivation of the word, taille. (Apparently, it comes from a word meaning to slice a baguette so that the taxman can have his share. That got a chuckle.) He explained the timing and administrative procedure for calculating the amounts due from each person. The really precious documents are the collectors' books, which detail all that was collected, giving the names of all and their relationships in their families, and descriptions of their holdings. By following a person or family through the years in these records, one can learn much more about their businesses, their work, their financial ups and downs and about changes in the family.
Xavier Guyot, president of Loiret Généalogique and of the Club IBM d'Orléans, gave an enchanting, tongue-in-cheek survey of métiers, (skills or professions), as shown in the old and still belovèd card game, le Jeu de 7 Familles. He had the best illustrations of the day, taken from his personal collection of many sets of the cards. This game, he informed the packed room, was a craze that swept Europe in the nineteenth century. It was known as "Happy Families" in Britain, as "Gioco delle famiglie" in Italy, and made its way to the United States as "Authors" (how did that change in meaning come about?) His examples of the different types of employment given the families during different decades were accompanied by the images - really caricatures - from the cards. We propose that everyone become a collector of the old sets of this game, for they are one of the few opportunities to see exactly how the French mock their own. We plan to hunt some up at the next vide grenier.*
©2011 Anne Morddel
*literally, "attic emptying", in practice, it is the same as a garage sale or car boot sale